Archive for the ‘storytelling’ Tag

Libraries and Adventures   Leave a comment

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Cloud Cuckoo Land may be the looniest book title I’ve heard of. Nonetheless, it’s Anthony Doerr’s most recent, aptly-named novel. This epic work traverses centuries and locales; it’s about five children, books and the importance of libraries in their lives and throughout time.

Anna is an orphan in Constantinople; Omeir is a village boy in the same era. Zeno and Seymour are from Idaho living in the 2000s; and Konstance lives on an interstellar ship. Some them converge, and they’re not the ones readers might expect.

Libraries could, collectively, be a sixth character. They serve as gathering places for four of the five to learn about their individual worlds. A Greek book ties everything together. It’s the namesake of this narrative and a story within the main story.

Each section expands on the ancient tale of Cloud Cuckoo Land wherein a man is turned into an ass. His efforts to regain his human self result in a far-fetched adventure with a potent moral.

At 600+pages, some might consider this to be a daunting undertaking. Yet, it’s worth reading every word. The characters age and not all for the better; the paths they pursue, often driven by information gleaned from their respective library visits or exposure to the Greek story, are ones easily imaginable despite the different settings.

Doerr has crafted a rich and vivid narrative through empathy, tension and curiosity. It’s a given the different eras and places will make sense. How it occurs is captivating.

Cloud Cuckoo Land

Five Bookmarks

Scribner, 2021

626 pages

Disturbing and Capitivating   6 comments

I was on the library’s waiting list for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for months. When it was finally ready for me to check out, I was impatient to start reading. After mentioning this to a friend, her reaction was less than exuberant, it was baffling. After all, the novel was so popular there’d been hundreds ahead of me waiting for a library copy. It’s been on Publisher Weekly’s list of Best Hardcover Fiction for 15 weeks – and appears pretty comfortable there. I pressed my friend for more, but she held fast: we’d talk when I finished.

Gone Girl is a mystery on several levels, including how I spent time living with such unlikeable characters for the past week? The story follows the disappearance of Amy on her fifth wedding anniversary. By all indications, her husband, Nick, is responsible. Amy and Nick alternate as narrators. The book is divided into three sections. The first focuses on the disappearance, possibly abduction or possibly murder. Nick comes across as shallow and surprised, not upset, at his wife’s unexplained absence. He seems guilty, which is reinforced by Amy-as-victim told through diary entries.

The second and third sections of the book reveal much more about Amy’s ability to weave complicated webs of deceit. It’s not that Nick is suddenly less appalling, but Amy is more so.  Flynn is a craftswoman. Her characters are fully developed as repulsive and intriguing. They’re also scary, always a good thing for a mystery, and I couldn’t look away. I need to talk to my friend.

Gone Girl
Four Bookmarks
Crown Publishers, 2012
415 pages